Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Compare cell phone plans using Wirefly's innovative plan comparison tool ×

Comment Re: "3 whole buttons to talk to Nana? Bullshit!" (Score 1) 114

I routinely use Hangouts for video calling because most of the people I know use Gmail and have Google accounts, and it tends to be very easy. I've used it cross-platform with Linux, windows, Android, etc with no problems. I have found that it tends to have higher video quality compared to Skype and it's easy to have a conversation with multiple participants who can join and leave at their leisure.

Comment Re:Laws of nature, not Man's laws of physics (Score 1) 344

The point is, a microwave-oven is well understood, and has well-understood physics. It's not an extreme situation, like in a singularity of a black hole. And it's in those circumstances (the very large or the very small, or the very energy dense) that our current laws break down.

IF the resonance in a microwave oven really could break CoM and CoE, we would have seen the dramatic consequences of such a thing (and its underlying law) ages ago.

Also: our basic laws aren't wrong in the strict sense. (Though this comes into the domain of semantics, I guess). They're incomplete, yes, but in their own domain, they describe reality with an astonishing accuracy. If any *new* physics will be discovered or developed, it will incorporate ALL that our current physics have demonstrated and have been observed, it won't negate it.

Comment Re:Umm no.... (Score 1) 344

There have been a few tests with lightsails, such as...well, the Lightsail (of the planetary society). I happen to have sponsored that on their kickstarter, since I deemed it worthwhile. They'll send an updated version with the heavy falcon.

Of course, most of these experiments were meant to use photons from our sun, not from laserbeams. And most were near-earth tests, nothing like a flight to Jupiter. I'm all for testing it out small-scale first, with an solar-system interplanetary StarChip (PlanetChip? ;-) ).

But well, for arguments' sake, I think we can agree that, while unlikely, it *could* be possible we (depending on our age, and/or longevity progress) see a thing like the StarChip reach that starsystem. They've raised most of the problems themselves on their site, but all of them are technical and engineering problems, nothing that is a real showstopper, let alone that it would violate a law of nature. So I think we'll get there, at least in principle. And, well, in our lifetime... I deem it unlikely, but as said, it's *arguably* possible.

I agree with you on the beryllium copper shield (well, actually, they said coating); it doesn't seem very practical in resolving the issue, and depending on the thickness it would have a dramatic effect on the weight (and thus, thrust/weight ratio) - which seems weird, seen their focus on ultra-light apparatus. But I'm no expert (yes, an unheard-off confession on slashdot ;-)) on shielding, so I wouldn't know the benefits of such a coating, and how thick it would need to be to be effective.

That said, I disagree with your stance .2c would be unattainable. At least, on the principle of the matter (talking outside the 'in our lifetime'-argument, thus). In fact, I remember reading that, at least theoretically, a lightsail with good (sail)surface/(useful)mass ratio powered by large amounts of powerful lasers, and - most importantly - which are *continuous* working for years or decades, could attain speeds of up to .6c. The latter being the most important, since the speed it gets from the photons is cumulative, and thus the longer it gets pushed forward, the more its relative speed will increase. Of course, the destructive power of interstellar dust-particles would augment too, so there are other considerations to be made as well. But I don't think there is anything prohibiting reaching .6c in principle, at least.

The same article also said the more mass it has, the more exponentially difficult, aka: more energy it would need (which is why the StarChip is so focussed on the ultra-small too), and anything that transports humans would be quite massive, and need gigantic lightsails and dito lasers pointing at it.

So, yeah, not going to happen any time soon.

Still, I'm all for NASA or whomever to at least test a system like StarChip out in our solarsystem. At least it wouldn't be wasted like on an EM-drive.

Comment Re:Laws of nature, not Man's laws of physics (Score 2, Insightful) 344

I would refute this.

The laws of physics are not 'made' by men - at least not in the sense of 'made up', it's based on what nature tells us it is. If nature had shown us something else, our physical laws would be something else as well. If you want to argue that our knowledge is not perfect, I'll grant you that. In fact, this has been known to science for quite some while.

But what most lay people do not seem to understand, is that, while our current laws aren't perfect, they're astonishingly accurate nevertheless and *anything new* (aka, new physics) would NOT contradict what we already observed for the last 400 years. Any new physics, thus, would not go *against* our current physics, but would merely improve upon it, specifically in extreme situations (like in the singularity of a black hole), where our current laws break down.

It would NOT suddenly allow for CoM and CoE to be broken, like the EM device would. Because if a microwave-oven would be able to brake CoM, we would *ALREADY HAVE OBSERVED* the consequences of such a thing. A microwave hardly is an extreme situation where our laws break down, after all. And if that's all that it takes to break CoM and CoE, we would already have seen the consequences in the universe around us. This is because IF the CoM principle could be violated (and by mere resonance of microwaves, no less), it would mean that fundamental laws vary depending on localisation. This in turn would mean, the speed of light varies, the strong nuclear force would change, etc., and thus whole swats of matter would spontaneously disintegrate into atomic and subatomic particles and exotic matter, and flood the universe . This, however, we have not observed, not even once, for the last 400 years. Hence, the extreme unlikelihood of such a claim.

As said, any new laws would still need to adhere to all previous predictions and observations. Since we never observed any of the consequences of such a thing, it is EXTREMELY unlikely to be true. About as unlikely as that we'll discover tooth-fairy magic holds the universe in check.

That's why I think people thinking a microwave-oven (which the EM device basically is) is going to get us to the stars, are, indeed, extremely funny. :-)

Well, sometimes they're pretty annoying too, granted. That's because they're fanatical in their ignorance, and are not prone to any arguments whatsoever. So after a while it gets tiring.

Comment Re:Umm no.... (Score 1) 344

I would agree speed is an important parameter and indicator of being 'better' or 'higher performance'. It could also be argued, however, other things may be regarded as improvements too.

Efficiency is also such a possible indicator. "Who cares?" is not an argument in determining that.

Let's say you have airplanes that go equally fast, but one uses half as much fuel than the other (which also means less pollution, more potential carrying-capacity, etc.).. now which one is 'superior'?

If all things are equal for the rest, it clearly is the more efficient one.

Ego, more than one 'measure-stick' can be used, as the parent poster said. Speed is one of the more important ones though, as you indicated.

Comment Re:Umm no.... (Score 2) 344

Hope, faith and dreams may be of importance to the mental state of an individual, but it has no place in science, though - at least, not in the actual implementation, methodology and results of it.

In fact; hope, faith and dreams are often in the way of reaching a scientific conclusion.

And it's not with hope and faith that we managed to save millions with modern medicines, but by the fruits of science. We saved more lives in the past 300 years with science, than in the 3000 years before that with 'faith'.

Comment Re: Umm no.... (Score 1) 344

With the caveat that a difference must be made between saying something is impossible based on technological limits or difficulties, and saying the same about things that break the basic laws of nature (physical laws). The former is likely to be shown incorrect, the latter isn't.

After all; keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out.

Comment Re:Umm no.... (Score 1) 344

Being a nerd doesn't mean being pedantic. Though granted, on slashdot you may find pedantic nerds as well. ;-)
Let's face it here: you actually *knew* he was talking about 'heavier than air flight', right? As anyone with a bit of reading comprehension would understand. As any nerd with even a slither of knowledge would understand, because any nerd worth his salt knows fully well the Montgolfier brothers didn't fly for the first time in a balloon in 1916 (in the middle of WWI, thus). And since you seem pretty intelligent - seen your second paragraph - I'm sure you understood that as well. Those who didn't, aren't nerds, they're dumbasses, which you find plentiful on slashdot too these days, granted. But catering to the dumbasses makes little sense, so my guess is you were being a bit pedantic about it.

"I see a huge difference between the state of the art in aviation in 1916 vs 1903."

As do I. As does the parent poster, since that was part of his argument.

"Yes you actually can say something is impossible we have limits based on the physical universe."

Which is why I said: "It's a whole other story for things that go against the basic laws of physics, though, (such as the FTL, or 'devices' like the EM-drive, which is pure bullocks)." The parent poster didn't argument with things going against basic laws of physics, though. Let's, thus, give him the benefit of the doubt he was talking about technical difficulties.

I'll grant you that enough idiots are on slashdot that think the two are similar, and come up with things like 'the EM drive' (in fact, didn't I see such a post already?), and it's also true those same idiots quote things that people once (presumably) said were impossible, while talking about technical obstacles, instead of inherent (physical law) obstacles. And many make the faulty jump to say: "well, since that person said *that* (technological) was impossible, but he was shown wrong, it follows that *this* (physical law) which is said to be impossible, will turn out to be possible too!" (As, for instance, the first, original poster of this thread (anonymous coward), was implying, me thinks).

Those are idiots failing to see the difference, though. But I wouldn't call them nerds, since those lack even a passing knowledge of the subject at hand, nor, in fact, normal reasoning capacity.

"Tech reaches a level of maturity and then it slows."

This is largely true. But after some time of stagnation, new tech comes up which is better than the old, and replaces it. With the caveat that 'better' can also mean 'more economically' in our times, not merely technically better (though it often is, since at least on some fronts it must be superior for it to be also economically better).

If you're argumenting that normal chemical rockets are not going to reach any star soon, and certainly not in our lifetime; hey, I'm with you on that. But other things are feasible, even with current or near-term tech. You *did* look at the link I provided, I hope? The (unmanned) 'StarChip' they're proposing is technological feasible, and *could* get to the nearest star, arguably within our lifetime.

As said, I do agree with your last paragraph, that it's pretty damn unlikely we'll ever see a manned interstellar rocket land there, though. Well, unless longevity-research knows some major breakthroughs, mayhaps. ;-)

Comment Re:Umm no.... (Score 0) 344

Your first paragraph was a bit pedantic, since we all know he meant 'heavier than air' flight, and while it wasn't 100 years *exactly*, it should also have been clear the time was indicative, and not meant to be precise to the year. (The mere fact that a random event would have occurred *exactly* 100 years ago, is pretty slim.) I mean, you could still 'correct' him even if he was off by even a mere day, then, if one is going to be (even more) pedantic about it.

And while the first commercial *jet* airliner may have been in 1952, the first commercial airline was already opened in 1914, a mere 11 years after the first flight, thus.

Anyhow, the gist of his post was that technological development goes blistering fast, and you can't really say something is impossible. I think. Which I would agree with as long as its confined to technological problems/difficulties prohibiting it. I think humankind will *always* find a way (if they really want to) to overcome technical 'impossibilities'. It's a whole other story for things that go against the basic laws of physics, though, (such as the FTL, or 'devices' like the EM-drive, which is pure bullocks).

Of course, rest us the question of 'when', and I would agree with your last paragraph on that, which is that it is extremely unlikely that we or our descendants will see any landing by humans on a planet outside our solarsystem.*

We *might* see an interstellar probe going for it, in a form such as this: https://breakthroughinitiative...
If it can really reach it in 20 years, we might even see reach its destiny.*

*caveat: aside from sudden enormous breakthroughs in technology and/or physics (which is unlikely), the argument whether we will be able to see it or not, is also largely dependent on our lifespan. Ergo, if progress on longevity is picking up, the above scenarios would dramatically increase, in as far as the likelihood we could see them is involved. Even if we had to drink blood of children, I mean, have plasma infusions, for it. (

Comment Re:treason (Score 1) 236

Ermm...yes, well... About half of all citizens of whatever country are ALWAYS going to be below the average. That's because IQ-ratings (in the assumption this measures intelligence) is approximated by a Gaussian, and thus follow the Bell curve.

This is irrespective of how intelligent in general a populace is. Meaning, if there were a country where the average IQ was 10 points higher than that of the citizens in the USA, there would *STILL* be half of them below the average of that country...

Of more interest, is not the relative percentages in terms of percentiles, averages and sigma, but of how high the IQ actually is, overall. The more intelligent your populace is, the better (well, maybe not for those in power ;-)), even though the distribution pattern will remain the same.

Comment Re:Useless... (Score 1) 195

I think the solar impulse 2 exactly proved how infeasible commercial airplanes would be, if they had to rely purely on solarpower/batteries.

The weight/power ratio was atrocious, with the solar impulse. Extrapolate this to a modern airplane which needs to carry 100 people, and you'd get something that wouldn't fit even the biggest airports, would weigh thousands of tons, and wingspans that would be mind-boggling long and thus made of impossible strong materials, rivalling carbyne. It would never be economically viable, even if you could manage it.

And this won't change until the batteries are a hundredfold more powerful and more lightweight.

Slashdot Top Deals

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay